Thank you again for your support for the next Abir's Garden Playground!
My colleague and mentor, Sophia Omar and I are here in Palestine to work through project details, in advance of John, Gethin, and Jon's big swim from Europe to Asia on August 30th! These three cool guys in their 30's from Great Britain are swimming the Hellenspot Channel in Turkey to raise funds for Abir's Garden. More about their adventure, and how you can help in the link below.
On Friday, Aug. 23rd, Sophia and I had a great meeting with Combatants for Peace leaders and the mayor of Ein Yanun Village where everyone is ready to build the next Abir’s Garden playground! Then some of us continued on to Al Aqaba Village where the mayor is inviting them to help with their playgound and stand with them too.Rebuilding Alliance began our work with Combatants for Peace back in 2007, in memory of 10 year old Abir Aramin. Since then, Combatants for Peace (CfP) has evolved considerably and it was good to work through details in person. CfP’s commitment to Ein Yanun, a Palestinian Village in Area C, is so very important because the village is under daily threat from a particularly violent group of Israeli settlers just meters away. EAPPI volunteers reside in the village and Rabbis for Human Rights files legal petitions on Ein Yanun’s behalf. In Ein Yanun, we envision a two level playground on the hillside, framed by a stone wall, with picnic benches for families overlooking the play structures — can you see it? We site it on a sunny spot next to the school, safely tucked in between the houses and away from the arbitrary and dangerous border with the settlement. Soon, Combatants for Peace will send their budget and specs. We’ll develop the project in phases, starting the land preparation now and moving forward with Playground equipment, tables and shade as soon as donations arrive.
In Al Aqaba, in just a few weeks time, Combatants for Peace will help spread sand and repaint and repair playground equipment. For many of the Israeli members, they will be returning to a place they may remember as Israeli Army training camps are nearby.
Building playgrounds is a good way to make a real difference for children and support a movement of former combatants determined to end the violence and the Occupation. Your help makes this possible!
P.S. In addition to John, Gethin's and Jon's Big Swim, from now through Aug. 30th GlobalGiving is matching recurring donations by 100% up to $200. Please consider making a 3 month commiment of support for this important project before the end of this month.
Hello Project Donors,
Thank you again for your support. My colleague and mentor Sophia Omar and I are here in the West Bank to work through the details of this project so that it will move forward at last. Although the Rotary grant combined with your GlobalGiving donations provides for equipment and training, so far we’ve not had a commitment for staffing. Sophia and I are here to get the staffing allocation or develop a Plan B for private staffing.
On Sunday, Dr. Allam Jarar of the Palestinian Union of Medical Relief Societies (we asked his intervention when the Palestinian Government failed to respond to our requests by mail and phone) introduced us to Dr. Mahmoun, the Director of the Ministry of Health for the Tubas Governorate. They took us to visit a new clinic and emergency room building constructed by the Japanese government in the village of Ein Al Beida, about 25 minutes north of Al Aqaba, also in Area C Jordan Valley. We also visited the clinic in nearby Tayaseer in addition to visiting the clinic in Al Aqaba Village earlier in the week.
They propose citing our Birthing Center in the new Ein Al Beida Clinic instead of Al Aqaba Clinic and there are a number of good reasons for this:
Meanwhile, all agree that Al Aqaba Clinic will be a good place for prenatal appointments and are offering medical staffing there 2 days per week, but just 3 hours per day. In addition, they are willing to contract with NGO’s to provide yoga and birthing classes, and various other Mother Child Education classes in Al Aqaba, rounding out the prenatal care program to 4-5 days per week.
Next step: a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Health in Ramallah, hopefully this Thursday. Overall impression: favorable. My concern: When I said we'll bring the training team in October, Dr. Mahmoun said this is too soon. Does the Ministry of Health have the budget needed to make their big commitment to staffing in Ein Al Beida's new clinic? When will they actually open the new clinic and emergency health center?
We’re here in Palestine and Israel through Aug. 29th, and we're determined to return home with a clear commitment for staffing, a clear schedule for opening both the Birthing Center in Ein Al Beida and the Prenatal Clinic in Al Aqaba, and a good sense of how we will get the equipment in. I'll get back to you in two weeks with an update.
P.S. On Tuesday, we’re speaking at the Rotary Club of Nazareth, a sponsor of the Birthing Center. Sophia and I are invited to talk about our work in the West Bank and also Sophia’s remarkable hospital (now the largest in all Afghanistan!) in Kabul. They would also like to have our two clubs develop a Rotary project “to benefit of our medical institutions here in Nazareth that give their services to about a quarter of a million people, Jews, Christians and Moslems that live in Nazareth and the surrounding cities and villages.” We continue to draw upon their insight and expertise!
Thank you again for your support for this important program. Rebuilding Alliance recently transferred a grant made up of the donations from these past two months, helping to pay the staff of the Al Haj Kindergarten: 4 teachers, 2 bus drivers, principal, part-time accountant and the librarian. To give even more people the opportunity to help, we've now put together a concise $3K proposal and are sending it to foundations and places of worship. Please let me know if you would like a copy.
I want to tell you that our long-time visiting teacher, John from Estonia, will be leaving Al Aqaba soon because his Israeli visa extention is ending. John hopes to return to complete his college at a Palestinian university. While in Al Aqaba he taught English as well as assisting Mayor Haj Sami with his correspondence including grantwriting. Through his efforts, the Government of Estonia will be sending a teacher to join the Al Haq Kindergarten staff through all of next year!
In closing, I ask you to mark your calendar for Wednesday June 12th. Starting at 9am Eastern time, GlobalGiving.org is matching donations with a 40% bonus! Please give -- small or large -- for Teaching in a Village Under Demolition Orders. That kindergarten keeps all Al Aqaba standing despite demolition order -- and these teachers are the heart of that wonderful school. Your donation, your support, your good giving — that makes the Al Haq Kindergarten thrive!
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the participants involved.